Sowing to harvest time: 28 to 36 weeks, depending on the variety.
Yield: 1 kg (21b) of sprouts to a plant.
Climate preferred: Cool temperate.
Aspect: Open, but sheltered from strong winds.
Soil: Heavy, firm and rich in organic matter.
Brussels sprouts are an excellent green crop for the winter months and freshly picked sprouts have an especially good flavour. It is worth paying a bit more for the seed of the modern small hybrid varieties, better suited to the smaller garden.
Sowing and planting
Sow the seed 1.3 cm (0.5 in) deep outdoors between early and late spring, depending on the variety and the location. When the seedlings are 15 cm (6in) high, they are ready to be transplanted. But first firm the soil with your feet; give it a dressing of general fertilizer at the rate of 135gm per sq m (4oz per sq yd); and rake it level. When transplanting, set the plants in holes 60 cm (2 ft) apart each way.
(The holes should have been previously filled with water, and allowed to drain.) The lowest pair of leaves on each plant should touch the soil, which should be firmed with your fingers. Hoe the soil around the plants regularly and water well in dry spells. Six weeks after transplanting feed with nitrochalk at the rate of 34 gm per sq m (1oz per sq yd) in rings around the plants and hoe in lightly. In windy areas draw soil up the stems, or tic the stems to bamboo canes in autumn to prevent the plants being felled by the wind. Loose soil and unsteady plants cause the sprouts to become ‘brown’.
Pests and diseases
Aphids, birds (sparrows eat seedlings; pigeons go for the mature plants), caterpillars, club root, flea beetles and root fly.
Start to pick the sprouts at the bottom of the stem when they are still tightly closed. Store by freezing.
This type of green crop forms one of the best autumn and winter greens. To be successful in cultivating these plants a good firm soil is necessary with plenty of room for root growth, and time to develop.
For a continuous supply of crops sow the first batch in February in a cold frame. The latest sowing may be made in the middle of March. Do not let the seedlings get overcrowded. As soon as they show this tendency, the strongest of the batch should be transplanted to a bed of the same soil, the plants being set about 3 inches apart.
The seedlings may be transplanted at intervals of one week to ensure a continuous supply. Plant into their permanent position in May, hi rows 3 feet apart and setting the plants 2 feet apart. They should be planted with a dibber and if the weather is dry plenty of water should be given. The hoe should be in constant use in order to keep down the weeds.
As soon as the bottom leaves turn yellow, they should be removed. The heads of full grown plants are sometimes removed, but this is a mistake, as in so doing, the plant is unable properly to form the sprouts, and also, there is no protection during the frosty weather.
A few of the best varieties for cultivation in the amateurs garden are: Aigburlh. Cement Garden Favourite.
Wroxton (dwarf variety).